Thinking beyond Finucane

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I’m surprised, both that a public inquiry into the Finucane murder has been refused, and that the response to the refusal so far  has been quite muted. Perhaps it’s only the calm before the storm. I would guess that the decision was finally taken on political grounds, namely that the UK government can get away with it. That probably wasn’t true a few years ago. If it’s true today, it may be a backhanded compliment to what we still call the peace process but it was also affected by the public spending climate.  Whatever they may say about particular cases, in Northern Ireland the main parties have no interest in major investigations into the past. The Cory inquiries that have reported so far have added little. The Troubles are starting to slide into history. The government’s favourite plan is to leave future examinations to a panel of historians and other analysts, probably on the basis of a 40 year rule for the release of documents. If that were up and running now, the fuller story of the height of the Troubles in the seventies would be underway. But precisely what documents would be made available?

All the same and in spite of all of the above, the refusal of an inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act was a miserable affair, the decision itself and the long delay under successive governments. Inevitably it will be believed there is something so awful to hide that it cannot be revealed, even though the evidence is sitting there in the Stevens reports. The basic problem is the huge lack of transparency and the distrust it naturally perpetuates over and above historic suspicion. Perhaps the Baha Mousa inquiry may be a better precedent for uncovering responsibility under immunity than the usual critics believe. At any rate we shall see, because the de Silva inquiry must now proceed with I assume similar immunities. The Finucanes cannot have a veto. Tough and unfashionable as it may seem, there is a higher public interest than satisfying family victims.

The next move that should be considered is to reach an interim overview of the performance of all types of investigations extant,  beyond sparse statements about family satisfaction levels and clear-up rates. Can an objective view be reached on the performance of the historic enquiries team, the controversial handling of the police ombudsman? And here’s a naive question: what does the record say about inquests? Now that they can delve into the Stevens reports what does the future hold for them? And fundamentally, why does it all take so absurdly long? Justice so long stalled is certainly justice denied.

Who can answer these questions? Responsibility is shared among so many stakeholders and jurisdictions – two executives,  the independent judiciary and coroners, a brace of Attorneys General and prosecuting authorities. The buck can be passed around endlessly. In an era where DNA evidence has transformed the investigation of crimes committed twenty and more years ago, and Nazi hunters are still active, it isn’t good enough for a civilised State to postpone it all to the distant future when everybody involved is dead.

An interim report on how we have so far dealt with the record of the past could point the way to finding out what remains to be done. It would cut across the coat trailing and allegations of one sided justice and should be carried out without regard to prospects for reconciliation.   It is wrong to confine the verdicts on the Troubles to matters of political convenience. Will the Assembly agree?

 

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  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    the UK government can get away with it

    Surely typo: insert “think they (can)”.

    Which, as I read it, was the thrust of this nice piece.

  • Pete Baker

    Brian

    An “inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act” hasn’t been refused.

    The Finucane family have repeatedly rejected that as being unacceptable.

    That’s what caused the “long delay”.

    But, as you say

    The Finucanes cannot have a veto. Tough and unfashionable as it may seem, there is a higher public interest than satisfying family victims.

    And I agree entirely with

    The next move that should be considered is to reach an interim overview of the performance of all types of investigations extant, beyond sparse statements about family satisfaction levels and clear-up rates. Can an objective view be reached on the performance of the historic enquiries team, the controversial handling of the police ombudsman? And here’s a naive question: what does the record say about inquests? Now that they can delve into the Stevens reports what does the future hold for them? And fundamentally, why does it all take so absurdly long? Justice so long stalled is certainly justice denied.

    Who can answer these questions? Responsibility is shared among so many stakeholders and jurisdictions – two executives, the independent judiciary and coroners, a brace of Attorneys General and prosecuting authorities. The buck can be passed around endlessly. In an era where DNA evidence has transformed the investigation of crimes committed twenty and more years ago, and Nazi hunters are still active, it isn’t good enough for a civilised State to postpone it all to the distant future when everybody involved is dead.

    But we also have active participants in the violence of the past, who are determined not just to avoid responsibility for their actions, but to continue to influence present and future politics without accountability for their past actions interfering.

  • Alias

    “If that were up and running now, the fuller story of the height of the Troubles in the seventies would be underway. But precisely what documents would be made available?”

    Who better to ask that Lord Stevens?

    “We were over there during a period of time in what were very difficult circumstances, physically and mentally, when RUC superintendents would be blown to bits by cars, and we actually had some threats against us. Yes, the rule of law must appertain wherever you are and whatever you are doing, and that rule of law must be absolutely locked into and deal with the processes as they stand at that time. What I am saying is that certainly what we discovered — and some of it may never see the light of day, I don’t know — as we have 100 tonnes of documentation now over there — and that is not a matter for me, it is a matter for other people — is that there has to be a proper, transparent process and there has to be a meeting. There was the RUC, MI5 and the army doing different things. When you talk about intelligence, of the 210 people we arrested, only three were not agents. Some of them were agents for all four of those particular organisations, fighting against each other, doing things and making a large sum of money, which was all against the public interest and creating mayhem in Northern Ireland.”

  • http://joeharron@yahoo.com joeCanuck

    Will the Assembly agree?

    Where have you been living, Brian? Surely not a latter day Rip Van Winkle?

  • wee buns

    Astute questions concisely timed Brian.
    In response to my recent annoyance at acts of revisionism Mister Buns did pull a quote of Orwell’s – ‘The very concept of truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.’

  • Dewi

    “But we also have ” – almost a classic Pete.

  • harry_w

    “The Finucanes cannot have a veto. Tough and unfashionable as it may seem, there is a higher public interest than satisfying family victims.”

    To portray the family as seeking a veto over and above the public interest appears intellectually dishonest and a typical unionist response, rather than ‘tough and unfashionable’.

    The Finucane family can point to an agreement to hold a independent inquiry which the British government made at Weston Park.

    That was a political agreement made as part of the peace process, which the British government have now reneged on.

    It’s hardly tough when coupled with a bid for this government controlled inquiry to grant the state’s personnel immunity.

    The faith in NIO-sponsored processes arising out of the assembly only serve to elevate it to the position of acting as a ‘Ministry of Truth’, the record says it’s just another mechanism of denial.

  • Dec

    ‘An “inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act” hasn’t been refused.

    The Finucane family have repeatedly rejected that as being unacceptable.’

    Untypical of you, Pete, to withhold detail but you may have added that the reason for the refual is that the framework of the 2005 Inquiries Act allows the government to withhold evidence. Bit of a sticking point, that.

  • Mark

    Not the kinda detail that normally gets overlooked .

    And what sort of Inquiry has a loophole like that ? That just about sums this farce up . It’s a joke …….a sad joke !

  • Banjaxed

    Pat Finnucane was an Officer of the Court.
    Can anyone remember if the NI Law Society, Court Service or any other relevant NI legal society has ever raised a hare that one of their own members was murdered (albeit indirectly) by the same authorities they have sworn to uphold?
    I sure as hell can’t. It could be my own faulty memory but it also could be a blatant and cowardly case of not biting the hand that feeds you.

  • BluesJazz

    Watching the national news last night, including C4. Not a mention. no-one gives a toss. And quite rightly so. As Donald Rumsfeld said “Stuff happens!”.

  • Neil

    Watching the national news last night, including C4. Not a mention. no-one gives a toss. And quite rightly so. As Donald Rumsfeld said “Stuff happens!”.

    I suppose it’s easy to be glib if you haven’t had the experience of watching your children cry their hearts out as they bury your loved one. Some people do care – you’re not one of them, but don’t assume you speak for anyone else.

    I can see the scene in No. 10 as Cameron asks ‘right which is the highest profile case where those filthy Republicans are looking an inquiry? Finucane? Ok get them over here, we’re gonna send a message’. Typical Tories. ‘We can’t afford it’ they say.

    Simple answer to that – get your agents, troops amd others to stop murdering people. Sounds simple really. But if you will insist on running around murdering people, the bullets come cheap but the aftermath costs money.

  • summerhill

    Apart from the crass and cruel treatment of the Finucane Family by the British Government, is there not a bigger message /danger here to the people of Ireland – if the British Government can ignore a part of the Weston Park Agreement,then all other participants to this Agreement can also choose to ignore any / all parts of it as well? And hence the whole process starts to unravel. Thats the danger.

  • Brian Walker

    harry w, you say:
    “To portray the family as seeking a veto over and above the public interest appears intellectually dishonest and a typical unionist response, rather than ‘tough and unfashionable’”

    This is a lazy sectarian piece of abuse. I was also unaware that support for a Finuance public inquiry was on the unionist card. My belief that victims should not be the only consideration applies as much to Willie Frazer and FAIR and all the others as to the Finucanes. There is a public interest even beyond victimhood.

    Pete etc.. sorry if I left her impression that the Finucanes were pressing for a 2005 Act inquiry. I meant that even notionally, it was the only one that might have been offered.

  • Dec

    Bluesjazz

    Troll somewhere else.

  • Nunoftheabove

    BluesJazz

    The obvious problem with your argument is that if you’re indifferent to the state doing it to someone else in the morning, you surrender any entitlement to whinge and whine when the ‘right’ you’re prepared to confer on them to do so results in the demise of one of your own family in the afternoon. Purely in the public interest, of course – comfort yourself that the greater good has been well served should you find yourself wiping your partner’s blood, skull and brain fragments off your hall carpet and your child’s toys one day. Best of luck explaining that to your traumatised youngsters too and contextualizing for them the criticality of good citizenship in a democratic and accountable state when they grow up should this occur in your family home one evening. I’m sure they’ll understand.

  • BluesJazz

    Nun…

    Think Osama Bin Laden.

    Oh, and i think every Israeli citizen will understand what i mean.

  • tuatha

    Eric Blair also wrote, in 1984, “Who controls the past, controls the future; who controls the present controls the past“.
    So, McG’s “very dark time” will remain light free because too many other night crawlers, on all sides, have too much to lose.

  • Neil

    Watching the national news last night, including C4. Not a mention. no-one gives a toss.

    And

    Oh, and i think every Israeli citizen will understand what i mean.

    I think you need to realise that your broad brush attempts at speaking for millions of people at a time are foolish. Many Israelis are decent people who would think summary execution of a foreign national on foreign soil was a mistake. Some of them probably believe he’s still alive.

    When you’re dehumanizing someone and glibly pointing out that ‘no-one cares’ when a someone is murdered be aware you speak for yourself. I assume as no-one cares about this murder then no-one cares about any other murders either? Or is your glib statement that no-one cares only in effect when it’s a dead fenian we speak of? Does anyone care about, for instance, La Mons?

  • Neil

    Well deary me. Just reading through the other threads and came across this gem:

    Very amusing to see the faces of the Finucane clan as they exited Downing Street yesterday.

    Blues Jazz

    I realise now that attempting to instigate a feeling of humanity over the idea of a child watching their father bleed to death was a mistake. Someone who can smugly enjoy and find amusement from a bereaved family’s grief will likely enjoy such a scenario. My mistake.

  • Granni Trixie

    I was surprised at the muted response to the PM saying that he accepted that there had been collusion in the case of Mr Finucan. (even the DUP MPs made the right moral noises in Parliament when it was discussed unlike what they tend to do in cases such as Bloody Sunday). Personally, I think acknowledgement rather than the usual denial is significant as the way to go forward in dealing with the past.

    Think back to Saville. Haven’t the families said that the findings did not tell them anything they didnt know namely that their loved ones were innocent people, shot on sight. An acknowledgement and apology at the right time could have saved not only scarce resources but hurt from heaping injustice on injustice.

    The government are taking advantage of the fact that the public do not have the appetite for another long,expensive Inquiry, yet know that they have to be seen to do something they can defend otherwise external influences will be on their backs (America, ROI).

    Stephens and Cory have already said it all. Going over the papers again will only be another filter for what their invcestigation revealed – what a waste. Better to “allow” the public access to what is already known – the facts will speak for themselves.

    I do feel for the Finucan family who have demonstrated dignity and perseverence .What they have achieved so far is that they have been heard and have flushed out evidence of the collusion was part of this dirty conflict. I wish for them that they find peace.

    And I hope that the conscience of MPs who initially passed remarks about Mr Finucan, prior to his death, is .led.

  • Nunoftheabove

    BluesJazz

    A truly revolting reference in the circumstances, you’re lacking in shame coming out with distasteful rubbish like that.

  • Granni Trixie

    toops…should have ended saying “hope their conscience pricks”.

  • Neil

    The government are taking advantage of the fact that the public do not have the appetite for another long,expensive Inquiry

    The Tories are using their power to exact revenge where possible on their most hated enemy. If they were worried about public finances they wouldn’t be spunking 50 billion quid helping to remove close to a million civilians from oil rich societies thousands of miles away.

    Incidentally they seem to be able to afford inquiries into the torture and murder of Iraqi civilians these days. The point stands though that if they want to save a few quid they could stop murdering people all over the planet.

  • quality

    Neil do you honestly believe that Republicans are the Tories’ “most hated enemy”?

    I wouldn’t doubt that there is probably a distaste there, given the attempted murder of the Tory Führer, but I certainly wouldn’t be inviting leading representatives of my most hated enemy to a party conference I was organising.

  • Neil

    Personally I think they’re right up there, as you say they attempted to murder Thatcher who Cameron deifies. Given the option I’m sure Dave and chums thoroughly enjoy sinking the boot in where possible.

  • Johnny Boy

    Might it just be possible that the government has concluded that a public inquiry would achieve nothing positive in broad terms. In fact it would probably achieve nothing at all, other than maybe damaging relations here.

  • Dec

    ‘Might it just be possible that the government has concluded that a public inquiry would achieve nothing positive in broad terms. In fact it would probably achieve nothing at all, other than maybe damaging relations here.

    Why give everyone the impression that a public enquiry was to be announced and invite the Finucanes to London only to bindside them?
    I’m going with the last minute intervention scenario.

  • BluesJazz

    Neil
    of course I speak only for myself.

    However, Ken Maginnis (now Baron) spoke for many others in the Lords yesterday.

  • Limerick

    Best of luck explaining that to your traumatised youngsters too and contextualizing for them the criticality of good citizenship in a democratic and accountable state when they grow up

    Yes indeed.

    Could have done better.

  • Limerick

    The Tories are using their power to exact revenge where possible on their most hated enemy.

    Personally I think they’re right up there, as you say they attempted to murder Thatcher who Cameron deifies.

    Neil,

    Cameron hates ‘human rights ‘ lawyers because they attempted to murder Mrs Thatcher?

    An interesting and revealing analysis straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • Nunoftheabove

    BluesJazz

    Ken Maginnis only speaks for himself too these days.

    Does he still carry the personal firearm incidentally ?

  • harry_w

    “This is a lazy sectarian piece of abuse.”
    No it’s not, so there’s no need to play the victim. It’s intellectually dishonest to present insistence on the inquiry the family were always entitled to and was agreed by the government at Weston Park as ‘a veto’.

    There’s nothing sectarian or abusive in suggesting your view is a typical unionist response. The themes are just the same, Dodds and Nesbitt both harp on the cost, you raise it in terms of public spending. [The cost of Bloody Sunday was mostly as a result of the MOD delaying at every stage while it destroyed evidence.]

    You say the Finucanes can’t have a veto, Dodds says the family couldn’t be satisfied. The family have always been clear about the need for an independent judicial inquiry; it’s the British who’ve insisted on police enquiries and judicial reviews. [It's always been a British veto on an inquiry, not one from the family. That's the why the piece is so intellectually dishonest, and that's the answer to your rhetorical question about why it takes so long.]

    You insist the British appointed QC’s review should go ahead regardless of the family, like Dodds, and ignoring the British agreement to on at Weston Park. You even suggest immunity for participation in this charade of state. Similarly, Nesbitt’s concern is for ‘an agreed mechanism’ to avoid painting the state and the agents of the state as the villains.

    You suggest “an interim overview of the performance of all types of investigations [and] on how we have so far dealt with the record of the past could point the way to finding out what remains to be done.” This is while you question whether an objective view be reached. Would you suggest another British appointee under ministerial control to deliver that, objectively?

    The [I can't believe they're not Unionist] Alliance party ignore the issue at hand to waffle about “a comprehensive process in place so that there is a clear way forward for dealing with the past. It is crucial that we agree an over-arching strategy.”

    So the piece seems to be a typical unionist response. Each of the unionist parties welcome the British decision to renege on it’s commitment to a public inquiry at Weston Park in 2001 (before the British rigged public inquiries for all to protect itself in the Finucane case).

    So the prospects for ‘agreed’ processes and mechanisms involving those parties and the British state, seem delusional.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/local/unionists_welcome_finucane_decision_1_3142910

  • Limerick

    Who here really believes we can bring peace through the normal rule of law? But will anyone here object if, with the rule of law in this hand and the use of paid agents in the other, we bring peace to Ireland?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Limerick,
    Looked at your link to Michael Finucane giving the “Bobby Sands Memorial Lecture” – made me more sad than angry, to be honest. You wouldn’t put anyone through what he must have gone through. But really, to read Bobby Sands’ pantstastic prison writings and observe: “The depth of his empathy with other people is clearly evident” is to lack any apparent moral compass.

    People affected by terrorism as he was, I guess, can easily turn violent themselves – that’s the bitter cycle of terror. Sad that he went that way. But hopefully the horrors meted out by the likes of Finucane’s killers and Bobby Sands are a thing of the past. These people have nothing to offer us today.

  • gendjinn

    Brian,

    How can “…typical unionist response…” be “… a lazy sectarian piece of abuse.”

    Unionism is a political movement not a religion.

    Harry skewered your piece and you had no rebuttal.

    Very poor indeed.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Neil,

    Simple answer to that – get your agents, troops amd others to stop murdering people. Sounds simple really. But if you will insist on running around murdering people, the bullets come cheap but the aftermath costs money.

    It might have escaped your notice, but it’s been quite some time since “agents” or troops have killed anyone around here.

    Limerick:

    Cameron hates ‘human rights ‘ lawyers because they attempted to murder Mrs Thatcher?

    This is far beyond even your own base standards of petty trollish hyperbole.

  • Comrade Stalin

    harry:

    The [I can't believe they're not Unionist] Alliance party ignore the issue at hand to waffle about “a comprehensive process in place so that there is a clear way forward for dealing with the past. It is crucial that we agree an over-arching strategy.”

    Alliance are attempting to deal with an elephant in the room. Bear in mind that in the context of the Finucane’s (legitimate) demands for the truth, Martin McGuinness is actively going around the country and repeatedly denying the same request when put to him. Bubbling along in the background is the whole issue of the Boston College tape archives and the treatment meted out by mainstream republicans to those former IRA activists who have chosen to put the truth on record.

    Republicans cannot have it both ways. You can’t ask the British for the full truth and with the same hand deny that truth to the victims of IRA violence.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Michael Finucane 2004: When the State eventually realises that people cannot be criminalised; that they will not give up their identity; that they will fight to retain their individuality and their beliefs; that they will never, ever yield, surrender, and be assimilated into a mindless, soulless institution; there is, really, only one thing left to do: kill them. Or kill those close to them. Or kill those close to them and all around them. Normally, this type of activity goes by another name: murder. The British Government describes it in another way: policy.

    Interesting language to be using in 2004. Martin McGuinness had become a member of such a ‘mindless soulless institution’ by then and would later denounce the PRM’s successors as traitors.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Alliance are attempting to deal with an elephant in the room.”

    CS, Alliance is waffling whilst reposing at the feet of two little dictators; it would run at the sight of a mouse, never mind an elephant.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Nice job dealing with the substance there, Nevin.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    CS, waffle has little or no substance and Alliance has thrown in its lot with the enemies of democratic and accountable government.

  • Limerick

    This is far beyond even your own base standards of petty trollish hyperbole.

    Stalin,

    If you read what they guy said then you will see that it corresponds entirely to what I said.

    I can only assume btw that the ball not man rule does not actually apply to you.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Nevin @ 5:47 pm:

    the enemies of democratic and accountable government.

    Please define your terms there. Or was it just rhetoric?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Usually by that he means the SDLP

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Malcolm, I’m thinking of a complete severance of links with paramilitary activities, including threats against folks who ought to be able to freely avail of remedies through the state justice system.

    Also, as far as I can see, the OFMDFM operates the Executive in the manner of a dictatorship. When I asked the UUP Chairman of a committee when the members were going to examine a report they were concerned about he said they were waiting for the SF Minister.

    Don’t pay too much attention to Jimmy ;) He pretends not to understand yet he probably remembers that the SDLP rambled on about the need for openness and transparency in policing whilst availing of the unaccountable involvement of Dublin civil servants in day-to-day policing decisions here. On the other hand, the SDLP folks did a pretty good job on the PAC investigation into NI Water.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Usually by that he means the SDLP”

    Jimmy, a short diversion from the main theme to deal with your diversion. You often (allegedly) struggle to join up the dots – even when many of the links and clues are provided ;)

    The SDLP once had four councillors in the 15-seater Moyle bus; that, sadly, has now dropped to two. It could have had the position of chairman in the final year of the previous Council when it had three councillors but surrendered the position to an Independent. This time round it allowed the Independents to act as a group instead of sticking to the d’Hondt system which the party introduced and promotes.

    The successful Independent chair, who could be nicknamed Gazza, was suspended by SF for behaving like a bull in a china shop in the Council chamber and then ‘resigned’ from the party when one of his alleged activities became a problem for Inspector Knacker at a time when SF was trying to create the illusion that it was committed to democratic means alone. Gazza is quite apt in the sense that he acts as the envoy to Gaza and has the temperament but not the skills of the footballer.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Nevin @ 10:34 pm:

    I like that first paragraph. It is irreproachable, unexceptionable, the kind of purist politics that got me termed “puritan” and “extreme”. The problem with such statements is they tend to omit three extra unspoken but critical words: to my satisfaction.

    Perhaps both of us need to go and re-read Max Weber.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Weber: Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth – that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today.

    Malcolm, in my own small way I try to enhance governance; that’s hardly purist or extreme. I can’t write freely about the actions of paramilitaries or developers – for reasons I’ll leave to your imagination; I also can’t write freely about the hidden actions of London and Dublin without revealing and losing my sources; on numerous occasions I can only provide a flavour of what I’ve uncovered or what has been brought to my attention. The gadflies will demand evidence …

    I’ve published enough to be labelled by a politician as a ‘dangerous bastard’ – one who might be thinking, “Does he mean me?” :)

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Nevin @ 11:50 am:

    I constantly thank the Irish Leaving Certificate for introducing me to the model essays of Addison and Steele. So, from The Spectator, number 615 (shamelessly, but so elegantly ripping Horace), here debating “fear”:

    Not the rough whirlwind, that deforms
    Adria’s black gulf, and vexes it with storms
    The stubborn virtue of his soul can move:
    Not the red arm of angry Jove,
    That flings the thunder from the sky,
    And gives it rage to roar, and strength to fly.
    Should the whole frame of Nature round him break,
    In ruin and confusion hurled,
    He, unconcerned, would hear the mighty crack,
    And stand secure amidst a falling world.

    Which, I feel is a better than most gloss on Fiat justitia ruat coelum — which is where, in an ideal world, we both would be.

    On the other hand …

    In my time Rab Butler was usually assumed to be the onlie true begetter of “Politics is the art of the possible” — and TotalPolitics persists in that assumption. I see that revisionists (damn their hides!) are now suggesting Bismarck had it first. [I guess that was provoked by the New Statesman, last week, celebrating RAB as one of "the left's favourite Tories" — along with Burke, Macmillan, and Thatcher.]

    This thread invited us to “thinking beyond Finucane”. Dangerous and slippery territory. We might discover a few absolutes. And therein danger lies. Which is why, at root, I recognise myself as a compromiser, even a bit of an appeaser.

    Now to the issue: the sad reality is that I do not see any figure in GB & NI politics capable of being (as that Weber quotation would have) either a leader or a hero — and certainly not a “heroic leader”. So the Cameroonie finesse over a proper Finucane enquiry — or any full-blown “Truth and Reconciliation” effort — merely underlines that we stagger along, seeking lines of least resistance. Messy stuff.

    Yet, again, there are dangers implicit in the absolutism of a “heroic leader” or of a Nevin or even, writ small, an idealistic Redfellow. As Hobbes (the guiding star of absolutism) saw, once we seek such an uncompromising moral posture, we must ourselves be impossibly “perfect”:

    Intemperance is naturally punished with diseases; rashness, with mischance; injustice, with violence of enemies; pride, with ruin; cowardice, with oppression; and rebellion, with slaughter.

    Lordy! these comment boxes do crib and confine any attempt at philosophising, and render any such effort as “trite”. For that, apologies.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “a compromiser, even a bit of an appeaser”

    Malcolm, London and Dublin, by their appeasement/nimby actions and strategies, have raised the parapoliticians in many communities here above the politicians. The good burghers of London and Dublin would be appalled, appalled I say, if they had to endure the Mafia-style attentions of the ‘good’ paramilitaries as happens in this small corner of these islands.

  • harry_w

    Comrade Stalin,

    Alliance are doing everything to divert attention from the elephant in the room, because the Finucane case highlights it all too clearly.

    We need a comprehensive process to address the needs of victims: October 11, 2011 5:08 PM
    http://allianceparty.org/article/2011/006057/we-need-a-comprehensive-process-to-address-the-needs-of-victims

    They pose as sympathetic to the Finucane family (“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Pat Finucane at this very difficult time.”) while opposing their legitimate demand for an independent inquiry. Alliance ignore Finucane family’s rights while waffling about meeting “the needs of victims and survivors” in general.

    Alliance say “We need talks to be urgently convened between the parties here and the British and Irish governments to find a coherent way forward to deal with the legacy of the troubles.” Like the article above, they ignore the fact there were already talks between the partys and both governments at Weston Park in 2001, where the British agreed to implement an independent public inquiry if recommended in this case.

    Alliance have nothing to say about the British reneging on that by appointing a tory QC to review papers instead. They’ve been “leading the push” for the British NIO to convene talks “to find a coherent way forward to deal with the legacy the troubles”. In the context of British reneging on a Finucance inquiry that looks more like a staged diversion and seeking to elevate the NIO as a ‘Ministry of Truth’ orchestrating some phoney process for awkward history to be either stuffed down a memory hole or endlessly raked over. Anyway, Weston Park seems to be something now lost in the NIO’s memory hole.

    Alliance insist “It is crucial that we agree an overarching strategy, instead of having a fragmented approach”. A ‘fragmented approach’ means their opposition to holding Finucane inquiry, the one inquiry still outstanding from Weston Park.

    The notion of ‘agreeing’ an overarching strategy under the supervision of a party to that conflict now in breech of its agreement to deal with the Finucane case, is incoherent as a way forward. It would seem delusional, unless there’s some other truth about Alliance in relation to the NIO that others aren’t privy to.

    For Alliance, the elephant in the living room seems to be the British state: remaining oblivious to it as a party to the conflict, the nature of its conduct, and now its breech of an agreement to hold a public inquiry in this case.

    Re: Boston College tapes, that whole psuedo-academic process seems characterised by deception, false assurances and a politically predetermined ‘truth’. The relevance to the Finucane case would be Ed Maloney’s involvement. He identified Stobie as the Special Branch agent who supplied the weapons to kill Finucane. That lead to Stobie being put up and acquited in a sham trial used to delay a Public Inquiry. He was then killed before testifying to any credible inquiry.

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    “I’m surprised, both that a public inquiry into the Finucane murder has been refused”

    The fact that you are surprised is a surprise. The Government’s attitude to future enquiries was well recorded in the public domain.

    “It is wrong to confine the verdicts on the Troubles to matters of political convenience.”

    Moral arguments cut no ice here. Whether anybody likes it or not, it is money which has driven the Government’s decision. The Government has decided that this matter is not a matter of priority. They are entitled to make that decision and the majority of the UK population is behind them on that.

  • Neil

    The Government has decided that this matter is not a matter of priority. They are entitled to make that decision and the majority of the UK population is behind them on that.

    Couldn’t disagree more Seymour. What you have said could be rephrased thusly:

    if a government murders a citizen it is then up to that government to decide whether or not to hold an inquiry.

    Of course that’s not right – no government whose hands are dripping with blood voluntarily decide to have an inquiry into their own murders – it simply never happens. The British government – were it able to – would not have held an inquiry into Bloody Sunday. Money may be a consideration (though negligible as we see the many billions being spent on removing Arabs from the map from three coincidentally oil wealthy countries), but any government would rather not expose their own murderous activities than voluntarily hold an inquiry. They only do so when forced.

    Maybe someone could help them figure out how to fund it, I have a suggestion: take some of the money plundered from Afghan, Iraqi and soon Libyan oil, bought with the murder of damn near a million civilians and use that. Then when they need to hold an inquiry into the deaths in their current invasions they can just attack some other oil rich country. Think of it as the world’s most evil pyramid scheme.

  • BluesJazz

    Oil.

    So that’s the reason troops were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland in 1969.

    Anyhow, this little charade has now moved off the media radar, Enda Kenny’s token disapproval notwithstanding.

    The golden goose has stopped laying.

  • BluesJazz

    Just in passing
    Jeremy Paxman has/had plenty to say on Ireland (both parts) promoting his new book on British Imperial history.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/magazine/2011/1015/1224305625510.html

  • Neil

    Oil.

    So that’s the reason troops were deployed on the streets of Northern Ireland in 1969.

    Clearly not. No Oil is the reason your brave boys are butchering their way through the Middle East. Try responding to what I say as opposed to what you wish I’d said. Still amusing yourself with the grief of children and widows of murder victims?

    Anyhow, this little charade has now moved off the media radar, Enda Kenny’s token disapproval notwithstanding.

    How right you are BJ, completely off the radar. Apart from 81 articles today, 149 three days ago and 385 two days prior to that. In fact one could say approaching a thousand articles a week would suggest it’s on the radar, your wishful thinking notwithstanding.

    http://www.google.com/search?aq=f&hl=en&gl=us&tbm=nws&btnmeta_news_search=1&q=finucane

  • BluesJazz

    Why not start a facebook campaign about this Tory outrage Neil?

    You could combine it with some other republican conspiracy theories, how about this one?

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lets-all-laugh-at-celtics-conspiracy-theories/189394637751093

  • Neil

    Why not start a facebook campaign about this Tory outrage Neil? You could combine it with some other republican conspiracy theories, how about this one?

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lets-all-laugh-at-celtics-conspiracy-theories/189394637751093

    What Tory outrage would that be Ted? And why are you suggesting that I start facebook campaigns? Try to stick to the topic old bean. Could it be that you can’t come up with a response to that which I have said? Seems that way. So let me respond:

    why don’t you start a Facebook campaign.

    Like you I have no reason to think you even have a facebook page, but saying as your off on a wee random one I thought I may as well join ya.

    So back to the conversation we were having (apart from the one which exists only in your feverish imagination). Would you consider approaching a thousand media articles in 5 days to be off the media radar or do you now realise that was just you pretending that what you wish were the case actually is the case. Reality, as per usual, diverges somewhat from the Unionist version of reality.

    Kind of like how you keep refuting points I never made, or suggesting Facebooks campaigns apropos of nothing? Presumably some joke or other but since it’s completely tangential and unrelated I won’t be bothering to look. I’ve posed some questions, you’ve failed to answer them other than with some spectacular witticism or other, so I’m happy enough. You either don;t have the capacity to answer or accept you’re wrong, either way it’s all good for me. Thanks.

  • BluesJazz

    Apart from 81 articles today, 149 three days ago and 385 two days prior to that.

    See a pattern emerging there?

    Like the so called Ballymurphy ‘massacre’, this is just one sided mythology- history. And no-one on the mainland gives a toss.
    Did Ed Miliband or Nick Clegg raise a voice in anger at the enquiry rebuttal? Not 1 remark at PM Questions today.
    There will be no more lucrative enquiries in to NI troubles.
    No more golden goose.

  • Granni Trixie

    Hey Mr Jazzman – would you tone down your disrespectful comments.

    On a point of information, what happened in Ballymurphy was no myth. As bit happens I knew FR Hugh Mullan the priest who was shot in these series of incidents whilst going to an injured person. He was definately a man of peace – but holding up a white hanky made no difference. I sincerely hope that none of Fr Mullan’s family in Portaferry read Slugger.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    BluesJazz @ 5:21 pm:

    The “mainland”? Huh? Doesn’t feel like that sitting here, twenty minutes from the Eurostar terminal for Paris and Brussels, with direct connections to Luxembourg (for the ECJ). Unless, of course, you’re one of those “Storms in the Channel: Continent cut off” blinkered Little Britons.

    Correction 1: there are quite a few this side of the narrow water who do “give a toss”. Check out the Left Foot Forward site, just this very evening, for one of the quarter million “hits” Google throws up. Then dismiss Michael Mansfield and Vernon Croaker as “non-tossers”, if you can.

    Correction 2: there were no PMQs “today”. PMQs are 12 noon on a sitting Wednesday. What may tomorrow bring?

    Prognostication: Let’s go back to Brian Walker’s thoughtful headline piece. Any review by Sir Desmond DeSilva QC (the archetypal criminal lawyer, please note) will be no whitewash, particularly since that would involve overwriting the previous studies by Sir John Stevens and Judge Peter Cory. In the tired cliché, all that has happened is the can has been kicked further down the road.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Bluesjazz

    “the so called Ballymurphy ‘massacre’, this is just one sided mythology- history”

    What words would you choose to use to describe what happened in Ballymurphy – a British military victory ? An accident ?

    I think you’ll struggle to describe it as myth until such times as the facts are established and the truth about it is told; reason enough to fully investigate it, people of sense might reasonably think. You’re dead against that, if I understand you correctly, on the grounds that (i) lawyers enrich themselves; and (ii) it’s a waste of money as they were only taigs anyway and their lives weren’t worth shit. Is that an unreasonbable precis of your actual position ?

  • BluesJazz

    Is that an unreasonbable precis of your actual position ?

    I think so. hardly the first time soldiers got confused. Badly led and under attack in a hostile environment. The Gurkhas would have behaved just as aggressively. The Black Watch perhaps even more so.
    During the liberation of Belsen, the British Army shot many Germans, including civilians, out of hand. The Americans did the same at Dachau. Eisenhower physically ripped up the reports. Context is everything.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Bluesjazz

    What’s your evidence for the proposition that the Ballymurphy deaths can be attributable solely to confusion please ?

    To seek to contextualize the Ballymurphy killings by referring to those which occurred during liberation of Belsen and Dachau would, in my estimation anyway, require a mind not estranged from a state of perhaps fairly continuous confusion.

  • BluesJazz

    Nun…

    Occams Razor

    Motive?
    Did the Paras receive special Free Presbyterian training at Aldershot?

    Or think they were in danger? Remember how they’re trained, unlike police officers.

    Does it really matter now? Soldiers behaving badly in a hostile environment is not news. I don’t remember them behaving badly in Bangor, except in certain pubs. Par for the course.

    BTW, there was no enquiry in to the (illegal) killings at aforementioned camps. Nor was there any clamour for any by the post war German government.

  • Nunoftheabove

    BluesJazz

    Not entirely unexpectedly, you’ve confirmed that you have no idea how those killings happened. Neither do I. I have therefore to return to my previous assumption which is that you couldn’t care less what happened because you couldn’t care less which, leaving aside its callousness, shows how little you esteem even fairly moderate democratic values. If you can’t be insightful, intelligent or witty – and by the looks of things these are just three of the things you’re incapable of – then you could at least be honest about it.

  • BluesJazz

    then you could at least be honest about it.

    I’m as honest as Eisenhower was about the Allied troops extra-judicial killings. Same rules apply here.

    And Finucane knew ‘the rules’

    so did Billy Wright

    Callous? Or Pragmatic? Frank Kitson applied the same doctrine as Eisenhower.

    And David Cameron.